There are lots of activities that cost nothing, sure, but most are pretty boring. Here are free things to do in Sarasota and Manatee counties that are actually fun.
Kiss under the Kissing Statue
The 26-foot-tall statue officially titled "Unconditional Surrender" on Sarasota's bayfront is the perfect place for a PDA, especially when there's lots of traffic cruising by on U.S. 41. Extra fun? A selfie of that smooch.
Bang the drum on the beach
Drum circles regularly form around 6 p.m. on Sundays at Siesta Key Beach andCasey/Nokomis Beach on Saturdays. Even if you're not a percussionist, you can let the good times roll grooving to the rhythms along with a crowd that will usually include at least a few belly dancers.
Berry Duane Oakley's Super Sunday Service
Hosted by the son of founding Allman Brothers Band bassist Berry Oakley, these all-star shows start are at 4:20 p.m. Sundays at Hoosier Bar in Osprey. Oakley sings and plays a bunch of instruments with a core backing band plus special guests who've included members of Dickey Betts' Great Southern group and other area standouts such as national blues festival regular Damon Fowler.
Learn about the mighty Cortezians at Florida Maritime Museum
Inside this renovated 1912 schoolhouse, you'll learn about the tough, amazing lives of the people who inhabit one of the last remaining commercial fishing villages in Florida. The museum is surrounded by the Cortez Nature Preserve in this neighborhood nestled along Sarasota Bay.
Picnic on Coquina Beach
The beach on the southern tip of Anna Maria Island backs up to hundreds of Australian pines providing ample shade for the extensive picnic area and parking lot. Plus, there are nice, new restrooms and private, stand-alone changing stalls.
Discover something new at the Village of the Arts
Bradenton's funky live-work community filled with colorful historic cottages hosts its Artwalk the first Friday night and Saturday afternoon of every month. You'll find live music, food and galleries of indie art.
Try to catch a big one at Venice Fishing Pier
The 700-foot long pier is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and you can fish there without a fishing license. Of course, if you do feel like spending money on food or drinks, Sharky's is at the base of the pier.
Bring your pooch to a Beach Paw Park
Venice's South Brohard is the only beach in the county where canines are allowed. Trust us, your doggy will thank you after a day at Paw Park.
Music on Main at Lakewood Ranch
The first Friday of every month, from 6 to 9 p.m., Lakewood Ranch hosts a concert on its Main Street. Dogs are welcome.
Unearth sharks' teeth on Caspersen Beach
Locals and tourist have been coming to this beach for years to collect prehistoric sharks' teeth, which make for totally rad jewelry.
Explore the Galleries at The Ringling
Every Monday the Museum of Art, including special exhibition galleries, are free to the public.
Ride the Anna Maria Island Trolley
Travel via trolley from the Anna Maria City Pier to Coquina Beach with plenty of stops in between on the 7-mile key.
Take an art walk through Towles Court
Creative arts community in downtown Sarasota hosts an Art Walk on the third Friday of each month, with live music.
Al Fuller's Legendary Blues Jam
For the past 15 years singer, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player All Fuller has hosted his "legendary blues jam" starting at 9 p.m. Mondays at the Five O'Clock Club.
Soak up the sun, or sunset, at the beach
When was the last time you visited? Seriously, ours is only like the most famous beach in the world at Siesta Key.
Sarasota Herald Tribune August 2015